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21 Common Concerns regarding COVID vaccines



With the vaccination drive for 18 years and above picking up pace in India, there is a lot of concern and queries regarding the COVID vaccines. This is completely understandable. Authentic sources of unbiased information are lacking and people easily fall for misinformation and fear mongering on social media.


Here I have compiled a set of 21 most common queries regarding the COVID vaccines.

I have numbered them and put a list of only the questions initially. You could go through them and then scroll down for the answer to the particular number of your interest.


Hope this helps. Get vaccinated and stay safe everyone! In case of any further questions mail me at thepocketfamilydoctor@gmail,com or leave a comment below this blogpost!


1. Are the COVID vaccines safe?

2. Is it safe for people with heart disease, elderly , diabetic and hypertension patients to take the vaccine?

3. What if I am allergic to certain medications or food items? Is it safe to take the vaccine?

4. Who should definitely NOT take the vaccine?

5.What are the exact contents of the vaccines?

6. I have already got COVID. Is it still necessary for me to take the vaccine?

7. I have taken the first dose/ planning to take the first dose of vaccine , but i was diagnosed with COVID. I have recovered now. When can I take the first/ second dose?

8.I have heard people are getting COVID 19 even after taking the vaccine. Does this mean the vaccine is not effective?

9.Can I stop wearing masks and social distancing once i am vaccinated.

10. Should I get any blood tests before taking vaccine?

11. What are the possible side effects of the vaccines?

12. Should I quarantine myself if I develop side effects to vaccine?

13. I read a whatsapp forward that taking paracetamol reduces the effect of the vaccine. Is this true?

14.I am trying to get pregnant. Is it okay for me to take the vaccine?

15. Is the vaccine allowed for pregnant and breastfeeding women?

16. Is it possible for me to get COVID infection from the vaccine itself?

17. I am concerned that the vaccines may not be halal or could contain meat/beef components which are against my religious beliefs. Is this true?

18. I have heard that vaccine can cause infertility, cancer or autism. Is this true?

19. I have heard that some people have died after taking the COVID vaccine. Is this true?

20. Is it safe for menstruating women to take COVID vaccine?

21. Are the vaccines effective against newer strains of COVID?


1. Are the COVID vaccines safe?

Both the vaccines currently administered in India - Covaxin and Covishield have underwent all the phases of the clinical trials and have been deemed safe for use. No major safety issues have been detected. (The trial details are available for public viewing on the Oxford website.) Due to expedited process of vaccine release, long term effect monitoring is still ongoing for both vaccines.


Recommendation : The dangerous complications of actual COVID infection are far worse. So if we see the theoretical risk due to vaccine versus risk of COVID complications - it is safer to take the vaccine.


Mass immunisation of the population not only protects each individual but also helps to curb the spread in the community!


2. Is it safe for people with heart disease, elderly , diabetic and hypertension patients to take the vaccine?


  • Heart disease - The vaccine is safe in those with heart disease.

Those who are taking anticoagulants like warfarrin, dabigatran and other similar drugs need to get their PT-INR levels tested and review with their cardiologist prior to taking the vaccine

Those on antiplatelet medications like aspirin, clopidogrel and similar drugs can safely take the vaccine. They may have mild bleeding from the site of injection which can be tackled by applying firm pressure and ice packs.

  • Elderly or bed bound persons - Can safely take the vaccine. Infact elderly persons have been shown to have lesser vaccine related side effects.

  • Diabetes, Hypertension - Vaccine can be taken safely.


3. What if I am allergic to certain medications or food items? Is it safe to take the vaccine?


If you are allergic to specific classes of drugs like penicillin or other specific antibiotic, sulfa drugs , specific painkillers etc, you can take the vaccine! Make sure to inform the vaccinating nurse/ medical officer about your allergy


Those with allergies to nuts, eggs, mushrooms, seafood or other food item can also safely take the vaccine! The vaccine does not contain any of these items.


If you are allergic to multiple classes of medications or any other vaccine in the past, in that case it may not be suitable to take the vaccine. Do speak to your family doctor regarding your concerns. He/she will guide you.


More information regarding allergies and COVID vaccine can be found here


4. Who should definitely NOT take the vaccine?

Anyone with allergies to the individual components of the vaccines, anyone who has developed a reacton to any other vaccine in the past should not take the vaccine. This is the only ABSOLUTE contraindication!


5.What are the exact contents of the vaccines?

COVISHIELD (Oxford - AstraZeneca)

Recombinant adenoviral vector with the covid 19 spike protein sequence is the main content.

Other contents are :

  • L Histidine L Histidine hydrochloride monohydrate - natural amino acids ( building block molecules of proteins) which are also present in our food. It maintains the pH of the vaccine.

  • Magnessium chloride hexahydrate - stabilising agent, prevents vaccine from degeneration. Magnesium is naturally found in a lot of food items and is an essential nutrient in your body as well.

  • Polysorbate 80 - Another stabilising agent. This chemical is used in ice creams and other milk based snacks. Also used in cosmetics like lipsticks and eye makeup.

  • Ethanol - Basically alcohol. Prevents contamination.

  • Sucrose (sugar) and Sodium chloride (salt) - Both help in maintaining the right pH

  • Disodium Edetate dihydrate - A chelating agent. This is also commonly used in soft drinks, breakfast cereals, granola bars etc and added to soaps, shampoos and other toiletries.

  • Water base

COVAXIN ( Bharat Biotech)


Whole virion inactivated SARS-CoV-2 antigen


Other Contents are:

  • Aluminium Hydroxide gel - An adjuvant, helps you develop a better immune response to the vaccine. We are exposed to minor amounts of aluminium everyday through cooking utensils, food packaging materials, foils are used in baking.

  • Imidazoquinolinone (Toll Like Receptor 7/8 agonist) - Activates the T cells of your immune system

  • 2 phenoxyethanol - Germicidal and preservative. This chemical is commonly used as a preservative in almost all cosmetics and personal care products. It is also a found in certain types of green teas. So many times it is also added products labelled "natural" or "organic".

  • Phosphate buffer saline - aqueous base to maintain the right pH. Phosphate is a naturally occurring mineral in our body.

6. I have already got COVID. Is it still necessary for me to take the vaccine?

Unlike certain other viral illnessses like chicken pox or hepatitis A. natural COVID infection does not guarantee lifelong protection against reinfection. So it is necessary to take the vaccine inspite of getting the actual COVID infection.


7. I have taken the first dose/ planning to take the first dose of vaccine , but i was diagnosed with COVID. I have recovered now. When can I take the first/ second dose?


You can take COVID 19 vaccine 3 months after recovery (applies to both first or second dose of both covaxin and covishield)


If you were admitted to the hospital and recieved monoclonal antibodies (drugs like tocilizumab, bevacizumab etc) or convalescent plasma therapy, vaccination should be deferred by 3 months from discharge from hospital.


Persons admitted to hospital/ ICU for other non COVID reasons should wait 4-8 weeks before receiving the vaccine.


8.I have heard people are getting COVID 19 even after taking the vaccine. Does this mean the vaccine is not effective?


Both the vaccines given in India have efficacy between 60- 80%. against mild - moderate COVID. But both vaccines have >95% efficacy against severe COVID.

This means that inspite of taking vaccine you will still be at a risk of getting COVID but vaccinated individuals have far lower chance of developing serious complications of COVID. This has been quite evident in the ongoing second wave. So vaccines are definitely effective and the only way to end this pandemic.


9.Can I stop wearing masks and social distancing once i am vaccinated.


Since there is still ongoing COVID 19 spread, it is not advisable to stop masking and social distancing once you are vaccinated. Atleast 70 - 85% of the entire population of the country needs to be vaccinated to break the transmission chain before suspending COVID protocols. (As of 31st May 2021 only 3.2% of India's population has recieved both doses)


10. Should I get any blood tests before taking vaccine?

No tests are recommended routinely prior to vaccine. In case you are taking anticoagulants like warfarrin routinely, you may need a PT INR test as recommended by your cardiologist.


11. What are the possible side effects of the vaccines?

Both vaccines can cause some minor symptoms like fever, headache, body pain, tiredness, back pain, cold starting 10- 12hr after the jab and lasting upto 48hrs. But these are harmless symptoms and can be tackled by taking over the counter pain killers like paracetamol.


12. Should I quarantine myself if I develop side effects to vaccine?

Since you donot have active COVID infection, quarantining is not necessary for vaccine side effects.


13. I read a whatsapp forward that taking paracetamol reduces the effect of the vaccine. Is this true?

Paracetamol taken to reduce the mild fever/ headache etc does not affect the action of the vaccine in the body. You can safely take paracetamol to relieve mild vaccine related side effects.


14.I am trying to get pregnant. Is it okay for me to take the vaccine?

If you have missed your cycle and uncertain whether you are pregnant or under ongoing fertility treatment speak to your gynecologist before taking the vaccine.


If you are trying for pregnancy but no possibility of current pregnancy, then you can safely take the vaccine.


15. Is the vaccine allowed for pregnant and breastfeeding women?


According to the current guidelines by the Ministry of health and family welfare, India, the COVID vaccine is NOT recommended for pregnant women.


COVID vaccine IS RECOMMENDED for all breastfeeding women.


16. Is it possible for me to get COVID infection from the vaccine itself?

No. Both the vaccines available in India - Covaxin and Covishield do not contain the active live virus. So it is NOT possible to get COVID infection from the vaccine itself.


However please follow social distancing, hand hygiene and double masking when you go to the vaccine center. In many cases crowding at vaccine center could expose you to infection.


17. I am concerned that the vaccines may not be halal or could contain meat/beef components which are against my religious beliefs. Is this true?

The vaccine manufacturers have declared that pork gelatine is not used in the manufacture of the covid vaccines and they are suitable for vegetarians.


18. I have heard that vaccine can cause infertility, cancer or autism. Is this true?

There is no evidence that the COVID vaccine can cause cancer, infertility or autism.


19. I have heard that some people have died after taking the COVID vaccine. Is this true?

So far more than 16 crore Indians have recieved atleast single dose of vaccine and no death or life threatening side effect has been directly or indirectly linked to the vaccine.


The complications of actual COVID infection are well documented and dangerous. And since vaccine protects against these it is recommended that all adults above 18 years get vaccinated at the earliest.


20. Is it safe for menstruating women to take COVID vaccine?

Vaccine is absolutely safe to take during / before or after menstruation. There is no effect on menstruation on immunity or effect of vaccine


21. Are the vaccines effective against newer strains of COVID?

The ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) has released a recent statement that the vaccines available in India have shown reasonable efficacy against newer strains including the double mutant strain


References and further reading:

1. https://www.mohfw.gov.in/covid_vaccination/vaccination/index.html

2. https://www.fogsi.org/covid-vaccination-for-pregnant-bf-women/

3. University of Oxford Vaccine knowledge project

4. Bharath Biotech vaccine factsheet

5. ICMR information about COVID vaccines







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